Visiting A Hindu Temple Essay

My First Visit At The Hindu Temple

I decided to visit a Hindu temple because the Hindu religion was the religion that I knew the least about and was interested in. This assignment gave me an opportunity to learn more about this religion and what their worship services and rituals were like. The temple that I went to was called BAPS Shri Swaminaryan Mandir and it was located in Lilburn. As soon as I walked in, I was amazed by the beautiful architectural design of this Temple. It seemed like it took a lot of hard work and dedication to make the place what it is now. While I was at the temple, I watched the Hindus perform an ancient Vedic ritual called the Abhishek, a ritual bathing to honor the murti of their God.
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, short for BAPS is a spiritual organization and worship place revealed by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) in the late 18th century and established in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj (1865-1951). BAPS was founded on the pillars of practical spirituality and they aim to resolve all the spiritual, moral, and social challenges that are happening in the world. BAPS strives to inspire better and happier individuals, families, and societies by basing their activities on the following principles: inspiration energizes its effort against drugs etc, promote harmony and peace, develop a better youth, and sustain the Indian roots.
The Temple was very large and beautiful. My friend and I were both stunned by how gorgeously built the Mandir was. The buildings were big and stretched across several acres of the land. Next to the temple was another large building, which was used as a center for gatherings and entertainment purposes. The temple had many different entrances, the main one we noticed were the big steps that led to the temple. The steps were only opened and allowed to be used once in the beginning of the year, because it’s considered holy. The Mandir (temple) was constructed with Italian marble, Indian pink sandstone, and Turkish limestone. The walls were all carved with delicate carvings of Gods that were carefully shipped all the way from India. The Hindus had very strict rules that had to be followed, such as: no smoking, drinking or eating inside, cell phones had to be turned off, and we had to be silent. We also had to take our shoes off before entering the temple out of respect for the deities and to keep the floors clean.
When I first entered the main worship room, I saw three women walking around the gods in clockwise motion. This clockwise motion is called Pradakshina, a form of worship that represents the fact that god is the center of everything and everyone else surrounds him. There were several gods in the room, each stored in their own window. Many people ranging from old to young kept going up to each god and doing their own prayers. I observed that the prayers were performed in a special way. You had to put your two hands together, close your eyes and pray to that...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Personal Narrative: My Visit to Agra and the Taj Mahal

1201 words - 5 pages Taj Mahal Out of many places I visited all around the world, the place I like the most is the beautiful city of Agra. It’s a quite town located on the North of India. When we talk about Agra one image that comes in mind is Taj Mahal. Yes one of the seven wonders is here. Agra is full of architectural monuments. And I also visited Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Buland Darwazaand. Food was not really good. Besides Taj Mahal, Agra is famous for...

The Sculptures of the East and West Pediments of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia

2157 words - 9 pages Use of Movement and Characterisation in the Sculptures of the East and West Pediments of The Temple of Zeus at Olympia The architectural sculpture of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia dates from between 465 and 457BC. Putting the temple into historical context, this was a somewhat flourishing time in Greek history, drama, and philosophy. In 490BC, the Athenians won a great victory at Marathon against the...

Compare and Contrast: The Man to Send Rain Clouds and Old Man at the Temple

746 words - 3 pages While reading different stories, you can find many similarities between the texts. For example, Romeo and Juliet and Pyramus and Thisbe are two stories that have many similarities. Throughout the story, the characters have many of the same traits. Similar events take place in the two stories. All these events lead both stories to a tragic ending. Stories can be similar in many ways. The characters, the setting, and the story line itself. Stories...

My first day at a new school, from grade school

633 words - 3 pages The first day if a new school is very difficult because you don't know any one and u feel all alone. Most kids do good because they are a people person which can help because they talk to people and know were or how to get around from talking to other kids. There are also kids that don't talk as much to other people they don't know either because there shy .So this I how I overcame the obstacles on my first day. The most memorable...

Personal Narrative- My Experience with Love at First Sight

1059 words - 4 pages I listen to the constant roar of motors as the dirt bikes and go-carts race around the small track behind me. For a few (usually uneventful) hours every Tuesday, I work at the ticket and rider registration booth; collecting money and making everyone sign the if-you-die-you-can’t-sue-us forms. As usual, I was signing in a few riders and spectators at my station; as I listened to my ipod in one ear I completed my task that I had done hundreds of...

My first time driving on the turnpike

704 words - 3 pages I had recently taken my practical Driver License exam. I had taken it in an empty parking lot, quite different from the crowded expressways, and very comfortable for first time drivers. For the exam, I drove a compact, black, brand-new, rented Toyota Yaris. It was the lightest car I have ever driven. Amazingly, I felt comfortable inside it! I was not nervous at that moment. That day, I was driving on the Turnpike South Extension North, from...

My first day in the United States

1196 words - 5 pages Hundreds of various thoughts and dreams crossed my mind, awakened frightened because of wind shears. Still feeling sleepy, the captain started talking about the weather in Houston and how much time left till landing. We would approach Houston in a short time and my first day in the United States was about to begin. My first day in the United States disturbed me too much although it ended well. At this time one of the stewardesses...

Describe a pilgrimage you go on during the Renaissance. Name and describe at least two cathedrals you visit.

776 words - 3 pages As a pilgrim you are never quite sure what world you are in. You left behind the life you lived before, and it is done with; you are in a strange time, a time when all you have to do is walk. Dates become meaningless; a day is merely the passing of the sun from one hand to the other, from behind you to in front of you. A pilgrim has given up reading the papers; a pilgrim has given up doing work; a pilgrim is just one big foot marching from one...

Handling feelings of anxiety during the first year at college.

1000 words - 4 pages I. Adapting to new surroundings and the social environment in college can sometimes be described as stressful. Well, your emotional health and academic success go hand in hand. Prolonged unhappiness and displeasure with yourself or your relationships with others can exhaust your energy and interfere with academic success. However, carrying on further in college is more than just academics; it's learning to become an adult for the first time in...

My Experience at the Brazil Fest

1722 words - 7 pages Introduction I attended Brazil Fest and it was quite an experience. Brazil Fest is a large show wit various performances that honor and celebrate the tradition of Carnival in Brazil. Carnival is a large event that occurs in Brazil, it is often thought of as a large parade and public street party. People often dress up and let loose in the streets of Brazil. Carnival also happens in other places around the world and Brazil Fest in Gainesville...

At first Sight and the Life of Jeremy Marsh

1349 words - 5 pages Life can change in the blink of an eye. Nicholas Sparks tells the life of a young couple with many struggles in his book, At First Sight, which was published in 2005 by Grand Central Publishing. This is a fictional love story that can be read by any young adult. This novel can be compared to The Wedding, which is another Nicholas Sparks book. These two books are similar because each book is character-driven and has a twisted end. At First Sight...

When I sat down to write a post on "how to visit a Hindu temple," I'll admit that I was initially baffled. How does one visit a Hindu temple? In a literal sense, it appears obvious. First, get yourself to one. Second, take off your shoes, and third, step in. Visit, in the most fundamental sense of the word, accomplished.

A visit anywhere, though, is so much more than just the physical action of stepping in and stepping out. Their significance varies from one individual to the next. A vacation to Spain or a business trip to Detroit sound vastly different, but both involve me, the individual, going through the motions of life in a given location and concocting a mental snapshot of the entire experience to pull out in the future.

A trip's purpose doesn't always have concrete shape and form. Because many might not have a tangible reason for visiting a Hindu temple (including myself on many occasions), I instead decided to make this post a Lonely Planet Guide (no affiliation) to the Hindu Temple. Acting as a guide of sorts for the interested visitor is a more promising role than telling others how to visit any place.

Naturally, every Hindu does not attend a temple. Some schools of Hinduism even eschew temples and the rituals often affiliated with them. For those who do attend temples, especially for interested visitors: there is no such thing as the average Hindu temple. They reflect the diversity of Hinduism itself, varying architecturally by region, town, or village of India, by historical era and philosophical school of thought, or by a specific diaspora's spiritual inclinations.

However, as I perceive it, there are three "rules of thumb" -- certain features that a visitor has a high probability of seeing when stopping by any Hindu temple.

Rule of Thumb 1: The Confluence of Polytheism and Monotheism

First and foremost, architecturally, a temple features either one or several shrines containing murtis, images of Hindu deities, to whom the shrines are dedicated. Often, a single shrine might dominate the others, reflecting the temple's affiliation with a primary deity. You may witness devotees circling the shrines as a symbol of respect or offering prayers in front of shrines.

To me, a general recognition of unity in diversity presides at nearly every Hindu temple: an arena in which polytheism and monotheism fluidly interact. Even as multiple shrines combine to form a single temple, several deities mirror the diversity of the indescribable Brahman, the ultimate consciousness underlying existence.

Rule of Thumb 2: The Confluence of Ritual and Devotion

Murtis often reflect the bhakti, or devotional, school of Hinduism, in which age-old mythological stories of justice, compassion, and love honor a single deity, rendering him or her worthy of being placed on a pedestal within a temple.

Inside a temple, perhaps the most colorful process that a visitor might notice is the observance of rituals, or pujas, that represent offerings to the divine. Typically, such rituals symbolize the relationship between the Supreme and the individual, humanizing the Supreme and conversely implying the presence of Brahman in the individual's heart. Rituals involve waking the deity up in the morning with Sanskrit chants, bathing the deity with milk, clarified butter, and water, dressing the deity, and, in the evening, putting the deity to sleep.

Rule of Thumb 3: The Confluence of Individual and Infinite

Pilgrims attend a temple to receive darshan, meaning "sight" in Sanskrit: a metaphorical connection with the Supreme. The image represents an aid for forging this connection mentally.

See the priest circling the deity with a flame and then extending it to the temple-goers? This is the arathi ceremony, which occurs multiple times a day at nearly all Hindu temples. Arathi represents the symbolic surrender of one's existence to the Supreme: a moment that many individuals use for introspection and prayer. As it circles the deity, the flame symbolizes the individual soul's lifelong journey. Then, the priest extends the flame, one-by-one, to each individual in the crowd beside the shrine: a symbolic union of all within an ultimate circle of consciousness.

If ever you plan to book a trip to your nearest Hindu temple, I hope that this brief guide gives you some food for thought. On a less symbolic level than my rules of thumb, they're great places to go for general people watching and good food -- many have scrumptious vegetarian cafeterias. So, if you feel like wandering over to the nearest Hindu temple, here's to a happy and hopefully more informed visit.

0 thoughts on “Visiting A Hindu Temple Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *